In a rare moment of US rebuking Israel, Washington’s representative in the UN Security Council voted to a statement condemning Israel settlement expansions in Palestine.
It was on this Monday that in reaction to Israel’s plan to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, the UN Security Council issued a formal statement strongly rebuking the move.
What makes this anti-Israeli statement by the UN different is that although it does not have the binding force of a resolution, it marked the first time in six years that the United States has allowed the Security Council to take an action against Israel, Washington’s long-time, strategic ally.
“The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines,” the council said in the statement. “The Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on February 12,” it further noted.
Israel immediately hit back at the statement
Few hours after the declaration was put to vote, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement, rebuking the Security Council for denying the “historic” rights of the Jewish people.
“The UN Security Council has issued a one-sided statement which denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland,” Netanyahu’s office said in the statement, adding also that “the UN statement should never have been made and the United States should never have joined it”.
Palestinian authorities, however, welcomed the UNSC statement. Describing the statement as a “’unanimous stance by the Security Council”, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said: “we have a united front to isolate Israel as a step in the right direction. We are fast approaching a breaking point that no one should care to explore.”
Asserting that words only can’t stop Israel’s settlement expansions, Mansour urged the members of the Security Council that such statements need to be “translated into a time-bound action plans at concerted effort by the UN and its member states to set us on a different path, one that leads to freedom, justice and peace.”
Does Netanyahu’s government plan to own all Palestine?
The United Nations has condemned illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in multiple resolutions and votes. However, it seems that as Mansour believes, mere statements cannot stop Israel from expanding its illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.
Last week, Israel’s far-right cabinet approved the legalization of nine illegal settler outposts in the occupied West Bank, a move that the Palestinian Authority (PA) described as an “open war” against the people of Palestine.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, more housing units are likely to be built in separate, existing illegal settlements. More than half a million Israelis live in more than 200 settlements built on Palestinian land, which according to international law, none are legal, let alone the expansion and building of even more settlements.
The irony is that the new government in Israel restores even to the least relevant excuses to build more settlements. Regarding the nine illegal settler outposts in the occupied West Bank, for example, Israel says the decision was taken in retaliation for two recent attacks in Jerusalem that killed 10 Israelis.
“In response to the murderous terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the security cabinet decided unanimously to authorize nine communities in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement last week, using the Israeli name for the West Bank.